The Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles was yesterday won by Bubba Watson, whose 12-under-par total of 272 enabled him to prevail by two shots from Tony Finau and Kevin Na. Who knows, but maybe the extraordinary left-hander is gearing up for a serious bid to claim his third green jacket at Augusta in April? In other news, Tiger Woods shot 72-76 (six over par) to miss the cut by four shots. Whatever he does this season, he is bound to be part of the narrative of every tournament he enters, but there was something slightly sad in the fact that he was returning to the course where he made his debut on the PGA Tour – as a 16-year-old amateur, on a sponsor’s invitation. Then, 26 years ago, he had shot 72-75 to miss the cut by six. (Tommy Fleetwood, BTW, on his first start as a PGA Tour member, shot 283, one under par, and finished level with Luke Donald, the man who in what seems a previous life had topped the money list on both sides of the Atlantic in the same season but latterly has been very low.)
Woods played with Rory McIlroy on the first two days. (McIlroy closed with a 69 for a total of 281, a tie for 20th, nine shots adrift of Watson.) After he and Woods had shaken hands on Friday afternoon, the Irishman remarked that he had sympathy for Woods because of the commotion caused by all his fans. “I swear it’s two shots a tournament he has to give because of all that goes around. Whether that calms down the more he plays and it doesn’t become such a novelty that he’s back again, I don’t know. But it’s tiring. I’ve got a headache after all that.”
Woods agreed with what McIlroy said. “It has cost me a lot of shots over the years. All it takes is one shot [gone] on a Thursday and you lose the tournament by a shot on Sunday. It’s not just something that happens on Sunday afternoon; this is cumulative. But I’ve dealt with it for a very long time.” I’m sure all that is true but there is an alternative perspective. Nick Faldo once said that when Woods is playing with some other guy in the final round of a major championship, Woods is used to all the hullabaloo that goes with playing a round of golf with Tiger. The other guy isn’t, or at best is very much less so. Faldo thought that might be worth at least two shots to Tiger.
Riviera is a wonderful golf course with a pretty illustrious history. It staged the 1948 US Open, won by Ben Hogan, and the USPGA Championship in 1983 (Hal Sutton) and 1995 (Steve Elkington). In 2028, it will host the Olympic Games golf tournament. When the 1932 Olympics were held in LA, Riviera was the venue for the equestrian events. Horses for courses, one might say. In 11 years time, sadly, there’ll be no place for Tigers.
You can follow me on Twitter @robrtgreen and also on my other blog: f-factors.com